Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Respect and generosity: the keys to quality writing?

Surfing the internet earlier today, looking for things happening in the crime fiction world, I came across an interesting article in Author Magazine featuring an interview with acclaimed crime novelist and screenwriter George Pelecanos, who author and interviewer Allison Leota succintly calls "a literary rock star". Although I haven't yet read any of Pelecanos's crime novels, I do rate "The Wire", so have always respected his talents.

In an interesting piece for Author Magazine, Leota also shares Pelecanos's advice on how to become a great writer. As she says:
"I’ve read George’s earliest books, written before he was nationally treasured himself. They showcase considerable raw talent, but they’re unrefined and inconsistent. Like the evolution of cell phone technology, George’s writing has developed from an interesting conversation piece to a body of work so smart and sophisticated, it makes you shake your head with wonder. I wanted to know: how do I make that happen to my own writing? Will I need a more apps and better ringtones, or just some writing seminars?"

Well, "Gorgeous George" (as some on the BTZ boards call Mr Pelecanos) perhaps surprises with what he believes helps a writer jump from good to great. His ten top tips are:
  1. Be friendly
  2. Put yourself out of your comfort zone
  3. Be respectful
  4. Listen
  5. Write organically
  6. Exercise
  7. Know your city
  8. Be brave, you'll be fine
  9. Get involved in your community
  10. Help others and be generous
You can read Pelecanos's full reasoning for each point in Leota's article here.

What do you think of Pelecanos's tips for becoming a great writer? As Leota points out, they seem more akin to a Boy Scout than how you picture someone who regularly brings the vicious, corrupt and gritty parts of urban life so vividly to life on the page and the screen. But perhaps that's the thing.

What are your rules for good writing? What do you think of Pelecanos's tips? I'd love to read what you think. Please share your comments.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting tips, and reading them in full, I see he has some good reasons for them. But I suspect it's like "How did you live to be 100?" You'll get a different answer from every centenarian you meet - not that centenarians (or successful crime writers) are two a penny!